Flipkart is shutting down its Image Search and Ping chatting services, less than a year after launch. Flipkart Ping allowed customers to reach out to friends and family while shopping on the mobile app, and the Image Search option allowed customers to search for an object by uploading the photograph of an object, similar to Google’s image search option.
Flipkart launched Ping and Image Search about 10 months ago, as a drive towards product innovation under the then-Chief Product Officer, Punit Soni. A statement from Flipkart states, "After 25th June, 2016 users will not be able to chat with their friends or family on Ping but will be able to browse through their existing chats on the app." It also added that "Customers will continue to be able to share any messages or products through any social media platform of their choice.”
As a replacement to Flipkart Ping, Flipkart will be starting a new pilot programme that will let users chat directly with sellers. This way, Flipkart hopes to resolve user queries directly through the seller, before making a purchase. Flipkart says that it will also be starting a new user-to-Customer Care chat, which will allow real-time answers from the e-commerce marketeer's Customer Care division regarding shipping status, refund, discounts, exchange deals and more. The pilot programmes for these features will begin by the end of July 2016, and will initially be available to only a few sellers.
Although a replacement for the image search functionality hasn't been announced yet, the statement added, "We will, keeping in mind the consumer preference, discontinue Image Search, but will continue to support the " Visually Similar" feature on the platform to make shopping easy and seamless. Flipkart has recently been under a lot of pressure with Amazon investing $3bn in India, and the new steps are presumably to gear up for providing better user experience through newer, interactive options.